India Today - “Test Of Faith” / “A God Accused”
India Today - Shabby Journalism & Hidden Bias:
At india-today.com/itoday/20001204/cover.shtml, the India Today Magazine published a cover story about Sathya Sai Baba on December 4th 2000 entitled “Test Of Faith”. This webpage provides a full response to the article in question.
Before beginning, it is important to point out that Ex-Devotees boasted on their Anti-Sai websites that they were responsible for the India Today article. See for yourself:
Hari Sampath (an Ex-Devotee): “I had initiated and organized about 70 % of the major media stories on Sai Baba , including The Times, India Today, the Danish documentary, Salon.com and several others.”
Barry Pittard (an Ex-Devotee): “In 2000, I was a member of a small international group of former devotees which ran a number of potent exposure operations. In one of these, we got a 10-page cover story (December 4, 2000) in the prestigious mass circulation weekly magazine India Today. In eleven languages, millions of Indians read this publication, which is somewhat like a Time or Newsweek magazine for India and Indians abroad.”
“4.3.5 India Today Magazine: Sampath had been establishing contacts with the India Today magazine. They were becoming interested in the Sai Baba story, as the Indian paper The Pioneer had reprinted The Telegraph story. Sampath tells of much communication between himself and the India Today editor, Aroon Purie, regarding the taking on of this rather controversial story. The various political pressures were apparently enormous. India Today finally decided to do a major investigative piece, to coincide with the birthday celebrations of Sai Baba.”
India Today purposely withheld the fact that they worked in exclusive collaboration with Ex-Devotees. As one will see, India Today (and their authors) made several fraudulent claims (indicative of sub-standard journalism) and never questioned or challenged alleged victim’s stories whatsoever.
Dec. 2000 India Today Magazine Cover Story On Sathya Sai Baba:
Test of Faith
As India’s most enduring god-man enters his 75th year, his spirituality rests uneasily with controversy
By Amarnath K. Menon and Ashok Malik in Puttaparthi
Of all the qualities his disciples attribute to Sathya Sai Baba, there is one that almost every Indian will recognise as truly divine: punctuality. On Thursday, November 23, to mark his 74th birthday-or, to use official grandiloquence, “the 75th year of the advent of the Sri Sai Avatar” - Sai Baba was to drive in to Puttaparthi’s Sri Sathya Sai (SSS) Hill View Stadium at the dot of 7.00 a.m. As usual, he was bang on time.
The galleries of the stadium-which accommodate 30,000 spectators when Sai Baba devotees such as Sunil Gavaskar, Alvin Kalicharan, Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar help organise cricket matches-were almost packed. The turf, a remarkably verdant patch in Andhra Pradesh’s otherwise arid Rayalaseema region, seated an estimated 1,00,000 devotees. On the stage - a pink, blue and yellow film set-like construction, with winged angels playing bugles and flanking the symbols of the world’s major religions - sat a twitching chief guest, Union Human Resources Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi. Next to him was the silver throne, waiting, like the throng, for the Master.
Joshi had arrived only at 6.30 a.m., the others had begun gathering as early as 4.00 a.m. At 5.15 a.m., a policeman said, the customary white that Sai Baba’s disciples wear had more or less effaced the green of the grass. If there were 1,00,000 and more inside, there were an equal number outside. Puttaparthi, a town that usually houses 20,000 people, was today playing host to 2,50,000, its precarious infrastructure fraying at the edges.
All of Puttaparthi as it were seemed to wait in this private colosseum for the Afro-haired Caesar to ride in triumphant. At about a minute before 7.00 a.m. came the caparisoned elephant, then the brass band, troupes of dancing children and, finally, Sai Baba himself, waving gently from his motorised gold and silver chariot.
As balloons with Sai Baba’s likeness were released and crackers were burst in a rough and ready rendition of a 21-gun salute, the march past began. China, Saudi Arabia, Liechtenstein, the Cayman Islands, Nauru, Australia, Western Samoa: flagbearers from 165 countries (see box) presented themselves before Sai Baba. Later came the birthday hymn. A multi-ethnic choir sang a trilingual Redeemer of mankind ... yug avatar Sai to the tune of Happy birthday to you.
The valedictory sermon was, of course, Sai Baba’s 90-minute Telugu discourse on love and truth and the oneness of God, on “Bad name is debt, reputation is wealth”, on “constant integrated awareness”-translated instantly and with evangelical zeal by the long-serving Anil Kumar Kamaraju. The Platinum Preacher finally left in his white Mercedes-a maroon BMW is his other car. The scene shifted to the kitchens of neighbouring Prasanthi Nilayam (Abode of Peace), Sai Baba’s sprawling 100-acre ashram. It was time for the feeding of the multitude.
The Decision That Changed It All
The numbers may have been larger than usual but the adulation and the atmosphere could hardly have been unknown to Sai Baba. He is after all among India’s most enduring godmen; 60 years have passed since teenaged Sathyanarayana Raju returned home from school, flung away his books and told his sister-in-law, “I am no longer your Sathya, I am Sai”, the reincarnation of the Sai Baba of Shirdi.
That “Grand Declaration” changed an individual’s destiny-and a village’s too. From a nondescript hamlet, Puttaparthi is now a fairly bustling town. It has a floating population of 10,000 on normal days-adding 50 per cent to its fulltime strength-and survives thanks to the Sai Baba industry.
In the fortnight leading up to the birthday, as Prasanthi Nilayam and its surroundings buzzed with the activity of the World Sai Conference, the convocation of the SSS Institute of Higher Learning-a deemed university, the vice-chancellor of which is S.V. Giri, former Union education secretary-and numerous other functions, Puttaparthi commerce was in its elements.
It was “festival time” and so the Sai Santosh Hotel trebled its room rent from Rs 350 a night on November 21 to Rs 1,000 a night 24 hours later. Italian devotees arriving hours before the birthday bash paid Rs 1,000 for a bed and a pillow in the foyer of Hotel Sai Plaza. Close by, the “World Peace Cafe & German Bakery” did brisk business offering, among other items, yak cheese sandwiches, Danish rolls, French bread, bagels, vegetarian tacos, cinammon sticks from China and two brands of decaffienated coffee, one Swiss the other American. Puttaparthi was catering to the world.
No doubt Sai tourists also dropped in on the 50 Kashmiri carpet sellers who have set up shop in Puttaparthi, the Tibetan curio shop that has opened and the textile and handicrafts mela that invited itself to the birthday celebrations. As always in India, the economics of religion could be matched only by its politics. At the birthday celebrations, Joshi was kept company by Congress MPs S.B. Chavan and Shivraj Patil and a whole host of minor politicos.
From P.V. Narasimha Rao to N. Chandrababu Naidu, every Andhra Pradesh chief minister has paid obeisance to Sai Baba. The two exceptions have been the late Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, who was, like the Puttaparthi savant, a native of Anantapur district, and N.T. Rama Rao, who with his inclinations towards ochre robes and divinity, thought of Sai Baba’s charisma as a rival to his own.
Where netas go, babus follow. The bureaucrat club was present in great numbers at Puttaparthi this past week. H.J. Dora, the director-general of police in Andhra Pradesh and Sai Baba’s chauffeur when the religious leader visits Hyderabad, was at hand. So was P.L. Sanjeeva Reddy, secretary, Department of Company Affairs at the Centre.
Over the years Sai Baba’s establishment has been served by a galaxy of civil servants. Former Andhra Pradesh chief secretaries I.J. Naidu and K.V. Natarajan worked for him after retirement. Another former IAS man, P. Sitapathi, is now Sai Baba’s pro. K. Chakravarthy, an IAS officer of 20 years standing, resigned from the government in 1981 to become registrar of the Institute of Higher Learning and is now secretary of the SSS Central Trust, the fulcrum of Puttaparthi.
P.N. Bhagwati, former chief justice, and Y.V. Anjaneyulu, formerly of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, are members of the Central Trust management committee. So too was Justice V.B. Eradi till he was removed recently and Justice Padma Khastagir till she died. Former air chiefs O.P. Mehra and N.C. Suri are Sai Baba devotees. Just before he took over as chief of army staff, General S. Padmanabhan visited Puttaparthi.
This intense concentration of power is both a handicap and an asset for Prasanthi Nilayam. The civil servants bring with them their penchant for shadowplay. Crowds are meant to be controlled to the point of regimentation. The press is an unnecessary obtrusion. Subordinates practically click their heels and address senior ashram functionaries as “Sir”. In some ways, it is the spiritual answer to Delhi’s Shastri Bhavan.
My Response: The section above is accurate.
My Response: This section is ambiguous and India Today did not cite any verifiable references or incidents to support their highly subjective claims. The charges of “pedophilia” have been thoroughly discussed and refuted in an article entitled False Pedophile Allegations Against Sathya Sai Baba. It is significant that India Today did not confirm even one single incident of alleged “pedophilia” against Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The reason why “nobody at Prasanthi Nilayam was ready with a counterattack” is because all of the alleged victims (without exception) refused and failed to file a basic police complaint, public grievance or court case against Sathya Sai Baba in India.
Ex-Devotees erroneously and repeatedly parrot the claim that Sathya Sai Baba is a serial pedophile who has abused hundreds to thousands of “children”, “minors”, “boys” and “male youth”. The alleged parents to these alleged “children”, “minors”, “boys” and “male youth” have all (without exception) failed in their legal duty of “mandated reporting” because there are no known police complaints, public grievances or court cases filed in India against Sathya Sai Baba.
Therefore, all of the alleged parents to alleged victims are (according to Ex-Devotee’s own arguments) “accomplices in sexual molestation crimes”. The big question, of course, is why have “hundreds” to “thousands” of parents all failed and refused to file basic police complaints, public grievances or court cases against Sathya Sai Baba in India for the alleged molestations of their children? These indisputable facts strongly solidify the argument that Sathya Sai Baba never molested any “children”, “minors”, “boys” or “male youth”.
Despite the intrigues, for literally tens of millions of people around the globe Sai Baba is an object of reverence. While he himself says, “I am God and you are also God. There is latent divinity in us all”, for the believers he is the embodiment of the Almighty. “Can an ordinary mortal retain a youthful look? Without wearing glasses or wrinkles?” asks a wonder-struck Mitsuru Iwakai, a Japanese creative arts student spending six months in Puttaparthi.
Where does Sai Baba stand in the pantheon of the mystical men of the east? In terms of political clout, he can be matched only by the late Chandrasekhara Saraswathi, the shankaracharya of Kanchi who died at 99 in 1994. While the shankaracharya’s influence was derived from an ancient seat, Sai Baba is a self-made preceptor. In a society governed by a strict caste hierarchy, his family’s origins as a cowherd people of the Bhattaraju community-consanguineous to the backward caste Kapus and analogous to the north Indian Yadavs-have never been an issue. Nor is Sai Baba a jealous god. You can worship Christ or Krishna or Allah, he says, and still believe in him. This has obviously widened his appeal.
As opposed to the libertine permissiveness of a Rajneesh, Sai Baba is quite conventional, men and women not being allowed to live or eat together in Prasanthi Nilayam. Against the philosophical profundity of a Jiddu Krishnamurthi or a Swami Ranganathananda, Sai Baba may appear embarrassingly epigrammatic: “What is youth? You Think Like Hanuman”; “Help Ever, Hurt Never.” Even so, he seems to speak the language-if not in words in wavelength-of the individual disciple. Followers explain he dumbs down his message to reach a larger audience.
My Response: The section above is accurate.
In his early days, Sai Baba used his “miracles” -in 1990, P. Ramachandra Reddy, Hyderabad anaesthetist, recalls, “The Swami’s miraculous healing helped cure a paralytic attack in my left arm”- to gain a following. Now he realises there is need for a more lasting impact, in the form of schools, hospitals and drinking water projects. The first 74 years have been spent converting the individual into the institution. The remaining 22 will be a shot at immortality.
-with Methil Renuka and Lakshmi Iyer
My Response: Sathya Sai Baba predicted that he will attain samadhi in 2019 when he is 93. The claim that Sathya Sai Baba will die in 2022 at the age of 96 did not originate from him but rather from an astrological nadi reading. Sathya Sai Baba never said that Prema Sai Baba will be born to a woman named “Kasturi”. Where did India Today get this information from? There are stories that Narayana Kasturi (a well known Sai Devotee) would be reborn as Prema Sai Baba’s mother.
Sathya Sai Baba’s aim is not to “convert the individual to the institution”. As a matter of fact, Sathya Sai Baba has said:
“I have come not to disturb or destroy any Faith, but to confirm in his own Faith, so that the Christian becomes a better Christian, the Muslim a better Muslim and a Hindu a better Hindu. I have come to reconstruct the ancient highway to God; to instruct all in the essence of Vedas, to shower on all this precious gift; to protect Sanathana Dharma, the Ancient Wisdom and to preserve it. My Mission is to serve happiness and so I am always happy to come to come among you, not once but twice, thrice as often as you want me. To set right those who have taken to wrong path and to protect the good people, Sai will be born again and again.
I have come to light the lamp of Love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. I have not come on any mission or publicity for any sect or creed or cause nor have I come to collect followers for any doctrine. I have no plans to attract disciples or devotees into my fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of the Universal, Unitary Faith, this Path of Love, this Duty of Love, this Obligation to Love. Believe that all hearts motivated by the One and Only God, that all Faiths glorify the One and Only God, that all Names in all languages and all Forms man can conceive, denote the One and Only God. His adoration is best done by means of Love. Cultivate that attitude of Oneness between men of all creeds, all countries, and all continents. This is the message of Love I bring!”
A step by step magician’s view of how Sai Baba performs his miracles
Sacred ash. Or little ball?
P.C. Sorcar considers Sai Baba’s vibhuti feat a “common trick” conjured with an ash capsule and a repertoire of make-believe “mudras” to fool the human eye.
SALT FOR ASH: Baba produces vibhuti with ash. Sorcar wets salt to form a small mass or ball pressed firmly between his fingers for later.
THEATRICS: To make salt (or ash) appear out of thin air, a flurry of deft hand gestures, never once giving away the ball, will follow.
LAST ACT: The hand is held out and the salt mass quashed between fingers to pour into a powdery heap.
Gold from air. Or robe?
Sorcar attributes this to a technique called palming - “holding an object in such a way that the palm does not look loaded” - to help appearance/ disappearance.
OFF THE CUFF: Sorcar carefully tucks the object under his sleeve or in the furrow of his palm in quick motions. The flowing robe is a clever cover.
HANDS FREE: In the palm, the object is invisible, seen at certain angles “only by close Baba aides”. Swift moves conceal.
GOLD GIFTS: Tricking the mind’s eye, Sorcar brings forth the object out of his palm or easing it out from his sleeve.
Shivaling. Or mouth match?
On Shivaratri, Baba produces a green crystalline Shivaling from his mouth. Sorcar calls it mouth-ball production. “Anybody can do it, and repeat it too,” he says.
MATCHING UP: Using a matchbox, Sorcar uses the palming technique, all the time ensuring hand gestures distract the eye from the object.
FAKING IT: Sorcar uses both hands, one concealing the object, the other to cover his mouth, in preparation for the final act.
SPILLING IT: In the “high drama”, Sorcar grimaces as his palm discreetly supplies object into and out of his mouth.
My Response: Any materialization associated with Sathya Sai Baba’s physical form will be inextricably tied to doubt as magicians are able to duplicate them. However, what magicians are unable to duplicate are the amazing cures, healings and miraculous phenomena directly associated with Sathya Sai Baba’s materializations. Sathya Sai Baba’s miracles are not confined to his person. There are literally thousands of international reports of cures, visions, dreams, healings, manifestations, materializations and paranormal phenomena directly associated with the name and form of Sathya Sai Baba. The following links contain pictures to manifestations that typically occur in Sai Centers and Sai Devotee’s homes all around the world (many thousands of miles away from Sai Baba’s physical form):
- Sai Baba Manifestations At Sai Sruti Temple in Harrow, Middlesex, UK
- Sathya Sai Baba Vibhuti Manifestations in a Devoteeís House in London
- Satya Sai Baba Vibuthi Manfestations In Bali, Indonesia
- Sai Baba Manifestations In Colusa, California
- Sai Baba Manifestations At Sri Ragnapatnam, Mysore, India
- Sai Srutiís Sai Baba Miracle Photos Galleries
- Amazing Vibuthi With Rudraksha Manifestations
- Stunning Miracle Pictures And Manifestations As Recent As 2008
- A Gallery of miracles
No magician (including P.C. Sorcar) has been able to duplicate these types of manifestations, healings and paranormal phenomena. Even Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard (two of the main spokespersons for the Anti-Sai Movement) believe (even after their defection) that Sathya Sai Baba possesses genuine paranormal powers (Ref).
The village boy from a middle-class home now meets ministers and runs an empire of the soul
Origins: Born on November 23, 1926, to Pedda Venkama Raju and Easwaramma. He is named Sathyanarayana Raju.
The early years: “Materialises” candies and pencils for schoolmates. At 14, declares himself reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi, the town in Maharashtra whose saintly figure died in 1918.
Evolution: In 1944 travels to Bangalore. His first journey as a savant. Gives up striped shirt and dhoti for a robe, initially greyish-white, then saffron.
Coming home: Between 1948-50 builds Prasanthi Nilayam.
Sai Baba’s politics: To date, he has not asked his 25 million-odd followers to vote for anybody. But he has immense political clout and many disciples from among administrators.
Who’s close to him: From P.V. Narasimha Rao and S.B. Chavan to P.N. Bhagwati to T.N. Seshan. In Andhra Pradesh only NTR stayed away.
The upshot: Job requests, going back 20 years for foreign secretaries.
How is Puttaparthi run? The SSS Central Trust manages Prasanthi Nilayam, Music Academy. The Medical Trust runs the Rs 300-crore hospital. The Education Trust runs the deemed university and two schools. The Sai Baba establishment’s total investment in the town is Rs 2,000 crore, it owns 600 acres of land.
Other homes: Sai Baba has ashrams in Whitefield, near Bangalore, and Kodaikanal. Spends March-June there.
MNC: Has 2,560 overseas Sai Centres. Sai bodies run 75 schools. Surprisingly, Sai Baba has gone abroad only once: to Uganda in 1968.
My Response: This section is fairly accurate. However, Prashanti Nilayam was actually constructed between 1950 - 1952. Perhaps at the time when India Today published its article, N.T. Rama Rao “stayed away” from Sathya Sai Baba. However, after the publication of the India Today article, he did not. Anti-Sai Activists claim that Former AP Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao (now deceased) was a Sai Devotee and Chief AP Minister N. Chandrababa Naidu (the son/heir to Rama Rao) is a Sai Devotee.
Why are all these intelligent, rational and well-educated people devotees of Sathya Sai Baba if he is such an obvious fraud? Why did these intelligent, rational and well-educated people become Sai Devotees even after the publication of Anti-Sai articles like the one published by India Today?
Among The Believers, There’s A Fund Of Faith
“Baba says matter is energy. If you will anything, you can create it.” ~ Shivraj Patil, Former Lok Sabha Speaker
“I was introduced to Sai Baba by S.B. Chavan. Baba helped me preside over the Lok Sabha for a full five years (1991-96). Whenever the House would get unruly, I would shut my eyes and think of Baba so that I did not lose my cool. Such thoughts of Baba would inevitably lead the House to order.”
“Baba appeared in a dream and taught me to wait patiently for my time.” ~ Jette Madsen, Postwoman, Denmark
“When I first came to India in 1977 I was 19. After my relationship with an Indian broke off, I told the Baba that I had left it all to him. I have been here since November 9 for his birthday and even had a ‘carshan’ as he moved in his car. He waved to me and our eyes met. I am sure Baba will find a spiritual Indian companion for me soon.”
My Response: Compare these selective (some would say “self-serving”) quotes with Other Praises Of Sathya Sai Baba from high-ranking and well educated individuals. This type of self-serving quote-mining is indicative of poor journalism and points to ulterior motives, deception and bias.
Allegations of sexual molestation continue to dog Sai Baba during the 75th anniversary celebrations. But will they stick?
By Vijay Jung Thapa with Lavina Melwani in New York and Syed Zubair Ahmed in London
My Response: Fast forward eight years and the allegations of sexual molestation have not stuck. To Date: Not even one alleged victim and not even one alleged parent to an alleged victim has even tried to file a basic police complaint or court case against Sathya Sai Baba in India.
My Response: It is entirely true that Ex-Devotees are motivated by anger, rally in anger and maliciously attack Sathya Sai Baba, Sai Devotees and Sai Proponents in anger. It is also true that all of the alleged victims and all of the ex-devotees in the Anti-Sai Movement are foreigners (none are resident Indians). As stated before, the claims of “pedophilia” have been thoroughly discussed and refuted in an article entitled False Pedophile Allegations Against Sathya Sai Baba.
India Today employed no less than eight journalists to write their article against Sathya Sai Baba. Why was it that none of these eight journalists were able to independently confirm even one single incident of alleged “pedophilia” against Sathya Sai Baba? This fact strongly solidifies the argument that no acts of pedophilia occurred.
First and foremost, Alaya Rahm was born on January 8th 1979. So how was it that Alaya Rahm was sexually molested for twenty-two years (from 1977 - 1999) when he wasn’t even born yet? Alaya Rahm’s alleged abuse occurred within a time-frame of 1½ years on 4 trips from July 1997 - December 1998 (1 trip lasting 1½ months and 3 trips lasting a couple of weeks). This is quite a different perspective than a twenty-two year-long abuse that India Today portrayed through an uncorrected error that their editors and writers all missed.
Several major updates have occurred since India Today published its article that wholly compromises the Rahm’s allegations against Sathya Sai Baba:
- Alaya Rahm Self-Dismissed His Own Lawsuit Against The SSB Society
- Alaya Rahm - A Decade-Long Daily User Of Illegal Street Drugs And Alcohol
- A Scathing Response To Critics About Alaya Rahm’s Failed Lawsuit
- The Rahm Family - Allegations Examined
In “Response To Form Interrogatories” in Alaya Rahm’s self-dismissed lawsuit against the Sathya Sai Baba Society (Form Interrogatory No. 6.3, Set One) Alaya Rahm fully admitted that he had been a daily user of illegal street drugs and alcohol from 1995 - 2005. Consequently, during Alaya Rahm’s “Divine Downfall” and India Today Anti-Sai interviews and during the filming of the BBC Documentary “Secret Swami” and the “Seduced By Sai Baba” Danish Documentary, Alaya Rahm was under the influence of illegal street drugs and alcohol while relating his alleged sexual encounters with Sathya Sai Baba. This crucial information wholly undermines Alaya Rahm’s credibility and irreparably compromises the integrity of his claims. Needless to say, Alaya Rahm’s alcoholism and drug addiction have been purposely suppressed from the general public by Anti-Sai Activists, the Rahm Family and the media (Ref).
It is also true that Alaya Rahm claimed that Sathya Sai Baba miraculously transmogrified his penis into a vagina (and vice versa) by simply blowing on his fingertips (Ref). How credible is that? It also entirely possible that Alaya’s alleged molestations were nothing more than drug or alcohol induced hallucinations.
As one will notice, India Today did not speak directly to Alaya Rahm. Rather, they spoke solely to Alaya’s father, Al Rahm (who can often be seen acting as the mouthpiece for his son). Alaya is now and at all times relevant has been an adult and presumably capable of expressing his own opinions and advancing his own claims. This is important to point out because one cannot truly know if Alaya’s parents are actually or accurately expressing his position. Since neither Alaya’s father or mother claimed to have personally witnessed an incident of molestation, their assertions and comments on the subject are entirely hearsay.
My Response: What the Rahm’s have continually failed to address are:
- Why wasn’t it divulged that Alaya Rahm was a decade-long daily user of illegal street drugs and alcohol?
- If Alaya Rahm was so traumatized by his alleged molestations (as claimed by his parents), why was he refused medical and psychiatric treatment (as confirmed in the court records)? Alaya Rahm never obtained medical or psychiatric care for any alleged trauma.
- Why did Al Rahm and Marissa Rahm refuse and fail to file a basic police complaint or court case against Sathya Sai Baba in India?
- Why did Alaya Rahm make every effort to have an interview with Sathya Sai Baba (including carrying two scarves to double his chances of getting an interview) if he was being sexually abused?
- After allegedly being sexually molested dozens of times, why did Alaya Rahm write a love poem to Sathya Sai Baba?
- Although Alaya Rahm shared intimate and confidential details about his sex life with Lewis Kreydick (information he withheld from his own parents), why would Alaya Rahm fail to mention one word of inappropriate sexual behavior by Sathya Sai Baba to Lewis Kreydick?
- Why did the Rahms change the number of Alaya Rahm’s private interviews from 14 to 21? Also, the Rahms contended that they were present during 7 of those 14 interviews and apparently did not notice anything wrong or unusual about Alaya’s behavior or appearance despite allegedly being sexually molested in an adjacent room (separated by a cloth curtain) while they waited just a few feet outside!
There are numerous other issues discussed on a page entitled Alaya Rahm - Testimonies Against Sathya Sai Baba - A Full Inquiry And Analysis.
To Date: There are no verifiable or credible sources to support the claim that Hari Sampath (not “Hari Sampat”, as misspelled by India Today) was a voluntary member of the inner-security at Sai Baba’s ashram. Hari Sampath’s numerous lies and distortions are fully recorded on the internet and even Ex-Devotees argued with him, did not trust him and even warned other Ex-Devotees about him.
As stated before, the charges of “pedophilia” have been thoroughly discussed and refuted in an article entitled False Pedophile Allegations Against Sathya Sai Baba. Therefore, Hari Sampath’s claim that he discovered “paedophilic activities” is a bold-faced untruth. It is also to be noted that despite Hari Sampath’s alleged discoveries of “paedophilic activities”, he never filed a basic police complaint or reported his alleged discoveries to proper authorities, making him an accomplice (if true) in sexual abuse offences.
Hari Sampath was similarly exposed for his exaggerations, lies and deceptions regarding alleged affidavits against Sathya Sai Baba. This is the type of person that India Today deemed credible and whose stories they never challenged or questioned whatsoever. Hari Sampath is the same person who was responsible for India Today writing its article against Sathya Sai Baba to begin with.
My Response: To Date: The total number of “identified” alleged victims is six (Ref). After being “e-bombed” with hundreds (possibly thousands) of emails and letters, Tony Colman raised the issue in Parliament. Nothing resulted from the Tony Colman issue. Tom Sackville said “the authorities have done little so far and this is regrettable”. What Tom Sackville failed to mention is that all of the alleged victims failed to report their alleged abuse with any Indian authorities. How are the authorities in India supposed to take action when not even one alleged victim ever made a single complaint against Sathya Sai Baba to the authorities in India?
What was the result to the movement to get the British Government to issue a warning to people wanting to visit Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram? Read the letter that was released on Anti-Sai Websites:
Urgent Action Requested at:
Date: Fri, 3 May 2002 08:01:23 +0100
Subject: Travel Warning for Visitors to Sai Baba Ashrams
Dear Mr Meloy
Thank you for your e-mail of 2 May 2002 addressed to Stephen Bailey which has been passed to me for reply.
We have not received any complaints against the Sai Baba organisation from British visitors, and as far as we can establish, no police investigations are currently underway. This remains a matter for the Indian authorities to investigate. In the light of this, it would be inappropriate to include references to these allegations in our travel advice.
Mrs R Ramanujam
Please note that all messages sent and received by members of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its missions overseas may be monitored centrally. This is done to ensure the integrity of the system.
That’s right, the British Consular Office in Chennai refused to issue a warning because they never received any complaints against Sathya Sai Baba or the Sai Organization by any British National and no police investigations were underway.
- All of the negative media against Sathya Sai Baba was the direct result of unremitting smear campaigns waged by Ex-Devotees. Anti-Sai Activists have boasted on their websites about their involvement in getting various media to publish negative articles against Sathya Sai Baba. This holds true for The Secret Swami, The Divine Downfall Interview, The Seduced Program, The Unesco Withdrawal, The U.S. State Dept. Warning, The Guardian Article By Paul Lewis, Michelle Goldberg’s Salon.com Article, India Today, etc., etc., etc.
- Jens Sethi’s alleged complaint is useless because it was filed in Germany and not in India.
- It is untrue that the Swedish Sai Group closed down. The Swedish Sai Group has always remained open although several devotees defected from the group.
- No official schools at Puttaparthi closed down as falsely claimed by India Today.
- It is true that Ex-Devotees “e-bombed” Foreign Secretary Madeleine Albright’s office “every day”. It is also true that Ex-Devotees “e-bombed” various other individuals and organizations “every day” (as confirmed by the journalist Mick Brown).
- The US State Department eventually published an indirect warning about Sathya Sai Baba (not mentioning him by name) on their official website. However, as of July 17th 2007, the US State Department removed all indirect references about Sathya Sai Baba from their website (obviously familiarizing themselves with critic’s fanatic and extremist disinformation & smear campaigns).
My Response: It is true that many Sai Devotees have disregarded the allegations. Why? Read the article entitled The Truth About The Alleged Sathya Sai Baba Sex Scandal to understand why.
My Response: The “Anti-Hindu” argument is entirely with merit. Read the article entitled Rationalist And Christian Movements Against Sathya Sai Baba And Hinduism.
Do not expect India Today to cite verifiable sources or references to support their erroneous claims that Sai Devotees denounce the allegations because Sathya Sai Baba cannot be questioned or because Sathya Sai Baba engages in actions appearing “immoral” or “wrong” in order to teach lessons. This type of sub-standard journalism is reprehensible and very difficult for rational and logical people to blindly believe. Once again, the article entitled The Truth About The Alleged Sathya Sai Baba Sex Scandal discusses why Sai Devotees do not give merit to the allegations against Sai Baba.
My Response: There were no concerted efforts to have Sai Devotees “shun the internet”. As a matter of fact, there are about ten official Sathya Sai Baba websites as well as numerous Pro-Sai websites that date prior to and after the allegations that surfaced on the internet. If Sai Devotees were asked to “shun the internet”, then why does the Official Sai Organization have no less than ten official internet websites? Why would Sai Devotees be asked to “shun the internet” and then be instructed to utilize the internet to post Sai-related websites supporting Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings?
Hal Honig never mentioned supporting The Sai Critic website. Why did India Today misrepresent Hal Honig’s words? Does it have to do with the fact that India Today heavily relied on Ex-Devotees to inform them?
My Response: “Rebels” is a good description for Ex-Devotees. There is a reason why Ex-Devotee’s “mud-slinging” has not stuck. The primary reason is that Ex-Devotees are not credible whatsoever. Ex-Devotee’s numerous deceptions, misrepresentations, libels, defamations, slurs, ad hominem attacks and bold-faced lies have thoroughly negated their self-professed credibility (Ref).
Do not expect India Today to give relevant information about Keith Ord. India Today was quick to cite self-serving quotes from Keith Ord’s stories but did not divulge the fact that he claimed that Sathya Sai Baba miraculously transmogrified his penis into a vagina with a clap of his hands above his head! Keith Ord made it a point to say that Sathya Sai Baba was not a hermaphrodite, but that he literally and miraculously transformed his penis into a vagina.
Therefore, we are presented with the possibilities that either Sathya Sai Baba possesses the paranormal ability to transform his penis into a vagina by clapping his hands over his head or Keith Ord lied. Which scenario sounds more plausible?
The subsequent discovery of homosexual profiles belonging to Keith Ord on the internet have caused much chagrin among Ex-Devotees (who can often be seen trashing and bashing homosexuality and homosexuals in the most vile and derogatory ways).
My Response: One will notice how India Today was unable to obtain a first-hand account from any student who alleged he had his genitals oiled. As is usually the case with the Sai Controversy, the stories are second-hand rumors. In an article entitled 22 Sai Students Respond To The Allegations Against Sathya Sai Baba (which is vouched for by an Anti-Sai Activist himself), these ridiculous stories about Sai Students being subjected to torment, abuse, molestations, etc., is refuted. Again, India Today relied heavily on the rumors and gossip of Anti-Sai Activists.
Where is the proof that molested Sai Students get “academic leeway” and are not “expected to follow the rules of the ashram”? These are the types of unsubstantiated and unverifiable rumors and gossip that India Today published against Sathya Sai Baba without verifying or substantiating in any way, shape or form.
My Response: Fast forward to July 2008 (when this response was written) and no one has even tried to file a basic police complaint or court case against Sathya Sai Baba in India. Critics allege that Sathya Sai Baba would be protected by his high-ranking devotees who are employed in the “highest rungs of the government”. This excuse (and others) has been addressed in an article entitled Alleged Victims: Not Credible.
Attempting to bolster their case, India Today cited Jed Geyerhahn, whose accounts are perhaps the most inconsistent, contradictory and embellished of all accounts made against Sathya Sai Baba by any alleged “victim”. It is important to remember that Jed Geyerhahn was never “fondled” by Sai Baba. Rather, Jed Geyerhahn claimed he received non-sexual “oilings” and/or vibuthi applications and left the Sai Movement because his life as a devotee was unfulfilling (enforcing the argument that Geyerhahn did not originally interpret his alleged experiences to be inappropriate). Years later, Jed Geyerhahn changed his views...and his stories.
My Response: Hold on! Who is the un-named “one person” who filed a court case against Sathya Sai Baba? It appears that India Today distorted and misrepresented the facts by making an indirect and anonymous reference to Hari Sampath’s failed and rejected Supreme Court Writ Petition, which was rejected on May 8th 2001. Needless to say, Hari Sampath was never abused, never witnessed an incident of alleged abuse and therefore is not a “victim” of Sathya Sai Baba. It is true that the only place where courts would have jurisdiction over Sathya Sai Baba as an individual defendant is in India. One must remember that critics ceaselessly parrot the claims that they possess “weighty”, “irrefutable” and “fully documented” evidence and proof against Sathya Sai Baba. Despite these hollow claims, alleged victims have been unable to obtain the representation of a lawyer despite:
- The lucrative prospect of a successful suit (Ex-Devotees claim that Sathya Sai Baba’s assets are worth over a billion US dollars).
- The offer of free “world-class legal resources” from Ex-Devotees.
- Ex-Devotees constant claims that they are in correspondence with anonymous “international lawyers” and “top lawyers” who allegedly speak and side with them.
Contrary to India Today’s claims, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”, which includes a wide range of sexual behavior like oral sex (heterosexual and homosexual), sodomy, bestiality, etc. (Refs: 01 - 02). Therefore, India Today’s defenses and excuses are moot.
-with Arthur J. Pais in San Francisco
My Response: To Date: Ex-Devotees have not initiated any sort of legal action against Sathya Sai Baba or the Sai Organization (Ref). Nor have any alleged victims filed a basic police complaint, court case or public grievance in India against the guru. The allegations against Sathya Sai Baba are many years old and alleged victims can no longer file court cases due to the Indian Limitation Act (Ref). Consequently, Anti-Sai Activists have resorted to vicious and malicious smear campaigns that are replete with misrepresentations, libels, slander, slurs and outright prevarication. Don’t expect India Today to follow up and report on these facts (probably because the truth is not as sensational and would not benefit their money-driven bottom line).
Allegations (as sent in a signed affidavit to INDIA TODAY): “As I was paying homage according to Indian customs, I touched his feet. He then grabbed my head and pushed it into his groin area. He made moaning sounds. The same sound that would later confirm my thoughts. As soon as he took the pressure off my head and I lifted it up, Sai Baba lifted his dress and presented me a semi-erect member telling me that this was my good luck chance and pushed his hips towards my face. After careful consideration, I determined that this was not what I wanted and should be doing and responded to Sai Baba that I only wanted his heart. He then dropped his dress, clearly ‘caught with his hands in the candy jar’ and told me that I had his heart. He went on to offer me ‘another good luck chance’, which I refused again.”
STATUS: Kraker has so far not filed any legal complaint against Baba in his own country. The Sai Baba Ashram in Puttaparthi neither denies nor confirms the charge.
My Response: India Today’s relevant extract from Hans de Kraker’s account was actually taken (verbatim) from a private letter he wrote to the French journalist Virginie Saurel. Hans de Kraker told me (via e-mail) that much of his private correspondence was made public without his permission. Hans de Kraker’s signed letter to Virginie Saurel was deceptively called a “signed affidavit” by India Today even though no Anti-Sai Activist ever specifically referred to Kraker’s letter as an “affidavit”. Even Michelle Goldberg (who cited the same letter in her salon.com article) did not refer to the letter as an “affidavit”. Therefore, Hans de Kraker’s signed letter was not an actual “signed affidavit” sworn before a notary as fraudulently claimed by India Today.
STATUS: India Today never questioned why no formal complaints were ever filed against Sathya Sai Baba by Hans De Kraker in India (the only place where courts would have jurisdiction over Sathya Sai Baba as an individual defendant). India Today neither confirms or denies the charges of bias, fraudulence, disinformation and shabby journalism.
Allegations (as sent in a signed affidavit to INDIA TODAY): “In the private chamber, Baba said ‘Come,’ and kissed me on my lips for a long time. I resisted and he gurgled, ‘Have no fear. This is a good opportunity, so many are waiting for months and will not get.’ He asked me to remove my trousers, unzipped my fly and went with his right hand into my underpants. Baba massaged the genitals unasked. He expected some erection but this did not happen for I didn’t feel any sexual excitement. I also didn’t come for such games to Puttaparthi. I was really disgusted. Baba was disappointed and had the impudence to say, ‘It is very weak, don’t waste energy.’ When I looked at him, I realised the truth about him. He had such an evil vibration that moment. Soon, he sent me out of the room without saying a word.”
STATUS: Sethi recently filed a complaint with the public prosecutor in Munich. The Sai Baba Ashram has no comment on the allegations.
My Response: India Today’s relevant extract from Jens & Gurprit Sethi’s account was duplicated (verbatim) from their joint letter to David Bailey (who, since the year 2000, never referred to Sethi’s story as an “affidavit”). Jens & Gurprit Sethi’s signed letter to David Bailey was deceptively called a “signed affidavit” by India Today even though no Anti-Sai Activist ever specifically referred to the Sethi’s story as an “affidavit”. Therefore, the Sethi’s signed letter was not an actual “signed affidavit” sworn before a notary as fraudulently claimed by India Today. Needless to say, a complaint with the public prosecutor in Munich is useless because the alleged incidents occurred in India, not Germany.
STATUS: India Today never questioned why no formal complaints were ever filed against Sathya Sai Baba by the Sethis in India (the only place where courts would have jurisdiction over Sathya Sai Baba as an individual defendant). India Today has no comment and neither confirms or denies the charges of bias, fraudulence, disinformation and shabby journalism.
Allegations (as told to INDIA TODAY): “Baba called me for several private interviews. I did not know what was happening between him and me but I believed him when he said he was God and was helping me with my problems. It was odd since he did this by physically approaching my genitals, sometimes smearing oil, later by masturbating me and asking for the same to be done to him. He also performed oral sex on me several times. He always seemed to enjoy it immensely. When he asked me to perform oral sex on him, I backed out due to my background as a molested child.”
STATUS: No formal complaint has been filed so far. The ashram is again mum on the case.
My Response: Conny Larsson alleged that he had sexual relations with Sathya Sai Baba from 1979 to 1983 (a period of 4 years, from the ages of 31 to 34) and first became aware of other alleged sexual abuse victims in 1986. Despite being a professional “psychotherapist” Conny Larsson did absolutely nothing about his alleged knowledge of sexual abuse from 1986 - 1999 (a period of 13 years). If the sexual abuse allegations are true, this would make Conny Larsson an accomplice in crime and his inaction and silence would have been directly responsible for the alleged sexual abuse of various individuals (which could have been prevented had he abided by his professional, legal and ethical duty of mandated reporting).
Conny Larsson had been seeing psychotherapists since the age of 12 and (at one point) went through seven years of psychoanalysis. In 1999 (after seeing a well known psychiatrist who deprogrammed him), Conny Larsson claimed he “recovered” 39 year-old lost memories of being sexually abused as a child and (at the same time) realized that Sathya Sai Baba was a cheat and a fraud. Just a few months prior to Conny Larsson’s deprogramming session, he was sobbing uncontrollably and praising Sathya Sai Baba as God incarnate at the XIII Annual South Central Regional Conference in Houston Texas (Ref).
Much has been written about false and recovered memories. The psychiatric data on recovered memories, and how therapists can influence a patient to create fake or false memories is voluminous (Refs: 01 - 02 - 03).
On this page, Conny Larsson said that the sexual abuse he couldn’t remember for 39 years made him into a “bisexual”. Conny Larsson had a lot of sex with men prior to meeting Sathya Sai Baba. Obviously, Conny Larsson’s “suppressed memories” did not prevent him from having sex with other men. This point is not to deride Conny’s bisexual orientation, but to show how his “suppressed memories” did not deter him from having sex with men although he claimed he had sex with Sathya Sai Baba because he “always did what he was told in order to save his life”!
Conny Larsson is a dubious character who has made several ridiculous, absurd and unverifiable claims against Sathya Sai Baba and the Sai Organization. For example, Conny alleged that the Sai Organization is a “money laundering machine“, Sathya Sai Baba’s vibuthi is made from burned corpses, the Sai Organization runs pedophile and human trafficking rings (shipping Negros from New York’s ghettos to Puttaparthi) and the airport at Puttaparthi was specifically built to traffic children and men for Sathya Sai Baba’s sexual purposes. Needless to say, all of these criminal claims have never (ever) been verified by any responsible media or legal organizations whatsoever.
And to top it all off, Conny Larsson is now peddling himself a Vedic mantra guru, meditation teacher and yoga instructor (claiming to have 10,000
devotees “students”). Conny Larsson is a widely advertised psychic medium and psychic healer who can diagnose ills by using crystal pendulums and who can heal by unblocking chakras and using modified tantric positions to transfer healing energy (Refs: 01 - 02). Conny Larsson appears to have adopted Swami Brahmananda Saraswati as his new Guru (Ref). This is the type of “credible” individual that India Today cited against Sathya Sai Baba.
STATUS: India Today never questioned why no formal complaints were ever filed against Sathya Sai Baba by Conny Larsson in India (the only place where courts would have jurisdiction over Sathya Sai Baba as an individual defendant). India Today is mum and neither confirms or denies the charges of bias, fraudulence, disinformation and shabby journalism.
Controversy could well be Sai Baba’s middle name. He has been dogged by various kinds of allegations in the past-though none of them has ever been proven.
My Response: Finally, an admission of the truth. None of the allegations against Sathya Sai Baba have ever been proven. What does this say about the integrity of the allegations against Sathya Sai Baba? If an allegation cannot be proven, then it is an unsubstantiated and unverifiable: 1) Gossip; 2) Rumor; or 3) Lie. These allegations could have originated from any number of Indian Anti-Sai atheists, rationalists or skeptics (who are notorious for their sensationalistic, fanatic and extremist tactics, as revealed in the Gurubusters Documentary). For example, see how Basava Premanand (an Indian skeptic and rationalist against Sai Baba since 1968) shamelessly libeled Joe Moreno: Is Basava Premanand Senile, Confused, A Liar Or All Of The Above?.
On June 6, 1993, gunshots rang out in Baba’s ashram. In the squalid incident, four persons (all of them devotees) were killed by the police but passed off as an assassination attempt on the godman. There were a lot of questions. Why did the police kill all four? Where was the Swami all this time? Why would four long-time devotees suddenly turn against their own god? The police justified their action saying they had no option as they found the four assailants in Baba’s chambers with daggers in hand. And, as usual, the Baba preferred to remain silent on the issue.
My Response: Leave it to India Today to ask loaded questions without providing basic information about the 1993 Police Shootings. Sathya Sai Baba did speak about the 1993 police shootings and attributed the events to jealously among his followers. Since India Today worked in exclusive collaboration with Ex-Devotees, it is not surprising that they took the path of tabloid sensationalism instead of the path of sober journalism.
In the mid 1980s, Tal Brooke wrote Avatar of Night in which he gave details of sexual advances made by Baba 20 years ago. It became instant controversy and was denounced by Baba’s followers. They described it as a crude attempt to make some fast money. Today, a second edition of the book is out.
My Response: First of all, Tal Brooke’s book was written in 1976, not in the “mid 1980’s” as erroneously reported by India Today. The only problem with all of Tal Brooke’s tall-stories is that none of the alleged witnesses he cited (who have never been identified as real people) have ever come forward in 30+ years to corroborate his stories. As it turns out, Tal Brooke’s alleged experiences with Sathya Sai Baba (and his subsequent defection) revolved around hallucinogenic and psychedelic drugs (mostly LSD) he was experimenting with at the time (Ref). Tal Brooke is also a fundamentalist Christian who believes that everything non-Christian is either a conspiracy or the work of the Devil. Of course, India Today did not publish this information about Tal Brooke because it would have diluted their Anti-Sai agenda. One can only wonder why India Today left out this relevant information about Tal Brooke? Was it shabby research or was it purposely suppressed? My guess is that it was both.
India Today Magazine - Journalists:
Some of the journalists who worked on this article are not very well known journalists (as confirmed by Google results). Others have interesting beliefs. For example, Lavina Melwani is a believer in Lord Krishna (Ref), chanting the Gayatri Mantra (Ref) and attributed her marriage to the Hindu God ‘Shiva’ (Ref). Ashok Malik is a believer in the Hindu God ‘Rama’ and has the ambition to be a gossip writer for a film magazine (he had a good start as a ‘gossip writer’ with this India Today article). Methil Renuka writes mostly about glamor, travel and entertainment.
Some of the journalists who worked on this particular article for India Today Magazine: